We now start a photographic tour of Valley of Fire State Park in Overton, Nevada. Our first stop was to see the beehive formations made out of sandstone. The Beehives are so named for their resemblance to beehives. This effect is caused by erosion, mostly wind. Wind erosion has two main processes, deflation and abrasion. Nearby is evidence of the process of deflation where sand is removed by wind and transported across the desert forming sand dunes and abrading rock surfaces along the way.
Although wind abrasion is not often as significant as the abrasion process in streams or along shores, it is significant over long periods of time. The result are sculpted rocks with unusual shapes. In a fluvial environment erosion results in rounded shapes as rocks are tumbled end over end. The wind based abrasion pits, polishes, facets and shapes the exposed rock surfaces in as many ways as the wind can blow.
As the sand is ultimately deposited in dunes somewhere, it takes on the shapes of ripples and waves like sand under flowing water. As the sand piles up, dunes get larger. As the wind continues to blow, the dunes migrate in the direction that it does. The shifting winds and the continuing deposition of sand creates an effect called cross bedding. This is caused by the sand being blown down the slip face or leeward side of the dune.
Over time the dunes that were created in this area became fossilized. Geologic process have reveal these fossilized dune fields and exposed them to erosion. At the Beehives we see the process repeat and reveal itself. The wind-blown sand abrades the softer rock first, articulating the layers of sand originally deposited hundreds of millions of years ago as the courser, leeward deposit remains. The beehives are located near the west entrance of the park.
Photo captured June 20, 2011.
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